Guest Post, Vanessa from Clean Eating with a Dirty Mind: Paleo Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake Squares

This week we’re visited by Vanessa of Clean Eating with a Dirty Mind, a blogger with a big reputation in the paleo community! Vanessa is known for taking cravings and making them a paleo reality. She successfully paleo-izes old favorites and creates new treats that quickly make us forget our non-paleo days of SAD indulgences.

Today Vanessa provides us with a treat that allows us to get in on all the pumpkin loving that is going on! This recipe would also make a great addition to a Thanksgiving or Christmas spread, and is one that you are going to want to keep in your seasonal rotation. Check out these delicious Paleo Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake Squares!


Well hello there Paleo Parents readers! It’s lovely to meet you. I’m here today to share two of my all time favorite things with you, pumpkin and dessert. It’s FINALLY Pumpkin Season! Group hug! I get so excited when it’s this time of year. It means boots, scarves, pumpkin spice and everything nice. I live in San Diego, which means I wear boots and scarves in 75-80 degree weather, but it’s cool, my office has air conditioning. I’m seriously one of those people who OD’s on the holidays. My house is decorated to the nines, I have my Christmas Pandora station on every waking second, and I get cute bow ties for my cats to wear when they take Santa pictures. What? Anyway the whole point of that is…it’s all happening, this is the beginning, the pumpkins are here and so is the start of the holiday season! So for now the ONLY ingredient I want to cook with is PUMPKIN! Oh sweet pumpkin


I’ve been following a Paleo lifestyle for a little over a year now and let’s be honest, if pumpkins weren’t Paleo I probably wouldn’t be either. I’m telling you guys I live for the stuff. Come January One, I hate it though. Ha! I make so many pumpkin things over the holidays and then get so sick of it I can’t stand it. And so help me God if anyone even mentions a pumpkin spice latte, I want to slit their throat. Wait this is a family blog, am I getting too violent already? Sorry, I’ll try my best to keep it PG, or is it just G? Help. I don’t get my own reference.

One thing I love about Paleo means I get to have my cake and eat it too…literally. Cheesecake that is! I’m a huge fan of eating cheesecake. However, a slight gluten intolerance and slight dairy allergy make it difficult. I’m intolerant of gluten in the fact that I get extremely bloated, irritable, moody, fatigued, lethargic and gassy (sexy!) when I eat it. When I eat dairy I have “seasonal allergy” symptoms…bad. I never even knew I was sensitive to dairy until I started eating Paleo. I omitted all dairy except for grass-fed butter and noticed I wasn’t popping Claritin like tic tacs anymore. I could probably clear up my occasional sniffles too if I got rid of the butter but it’s just too good and full of vitamins and wonderful stuff. And let’s face it, it’s like the best tasting stuff on earth next to chocolate. Oooh did someone say chocolate?! I told you I like desserts.


Speaking of desserts look what I made you guys! I was so proud of my pretty swirls. This recipe is fantastic and is honestly so simple. You just kind of throw it all together. This is also the 5th pumpkin flavored thing I’ve made this week. Don’t judge. So get out those measuring spoons, tie up those aprons and get it on with these Paleo Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake Squares. (That wasn’t PG was it?)

Paleo Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake Squares from Vanessa of Clean Eating with a Dirty Mind

Yield: 9 squares

Paleo Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake Squares from Vanessa of Clean Eating with a Dirty Mind



  1. Prepare the crust by placing the pecans in a food processor and grind them into fine meal. Add in the rest of the crust ingredients, and process again until well combined.
  2. Line the bottom of an 8x8 square glass pan with parchment paper, then press the crust evenly into the bottom of the pan. Place the pan in the freezer to set, while you prepare the filling.
  3. In a high-powered blender, process the raw cashews until they are blended. Then add the coconut oil, 1/4 cup of maple syrup, almond milk, and vanilla. Blend until smooth. Then add the zucchini, coconut crystals, salt, and lemon juice. For the lemon juice go by taste as not to overdo it with lemon flavor. Start by juicing 3/4 of the lemon, blending and tasting, and adding more. Add as needed to your preference then blend again until a super smooth and creamy batter is formed.
  4. Pour 2 cups of this plain batter into a separate cup and set aside. To the remaining plain batter add the pumpkin, the remaining tablespoon of maple syrup, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and ground cloves. Blend until smooth.
  5. Remove the crust from the freezer. Pour half of the pumpkin batter on the bottom. Then pour half of the plain batter over the pumpkin layer. Repeat this process twice or until you are out of batter. Using a butter knife gently swirl through the layers until you get neat swirl designs on top. Place back in the freezer to set for at least for hours or overnight. Let thaw about 10-15 minutes before cutting into squares and serving. Enjoy!


Hey I just met you, and this is crazy, but here’s my blog so read it maybe?

Web: http://cleaneatingwithadirtymind.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cleaneatingwithadirtymind
Twitter: @cleandirtyeats
Instagram: vanessabarajas
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/vanessabarajas

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  • Abby Wiley Frelich

    This looks amazing! Unfortunately, bad things happen when I try to bake.

  • Heather MB

    These look amazing!! Is there a substitute you can suggest for the pecans and almond butter though:( I’m noticing a lot of the paleo baking involves nuts, etc.. and I am allergic. 🙁 BOO!!

    • Vanessa

      Hey Heather! I believe you sent me a message on Facebook? We can totally figure out subs for you! Sunbutter could replace the almond butter and for the crust I would use dates along with different kinds of seeds and follow the same instructions by blending everything together in a food processor. Perhaps cut the quantity of coconut oil so it’s not too liquidy. Let me know if you have anymore questions!

      • AnneB

        What would you sub for the cashews? I see this method (soaking/blending) a lot & have never asked. We’re peanut-allergic & I cannot seem to find cashews which are x-contaminated w/ peanuts! 🙁 Thanks!

        • Vanessa

          Hi Anne,

          Unfortunately there is no sub for the cashews. I get the raw one’s from Trader Joe’s. I’m sure you could find some from a health food store or online that are made in peanut free facilities! At least I hope so! 😉

  • EllenFitz

    Abby: I just read through all the instructions and was surprised to see there is no baking involved with recipe! (Maybe she should add no-bake to the title as in “Paleo No-Bake Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake Squares”!)

  • EllenFitz

    A couple of questions for us Paleo Newbies: (1) When you say add “coconut crystals” did you really mean the palm sugar? (2-a) When soaking the cashews how much water do we use? (2-b) Does the water have to hot, warm, or room temp? (2-c) When we blend the cashews do we include the soaking liquid or drain them first?

    • Vanessa

      Hi Ellen,

      In response to your questions: coconut crystals are the same thing as coconut palm sugar, just use enough water to cover the cashews, the water doesn’t need to be any specific temperature, and drain the water since you only need to use the soaked cashews. Hope that helps, enjoy! 🙂

  • This Sydney Life

    Hello PP! Long time reader, first time commentor!

    I’m seeing double. Or, maybe I’m seeing Clean Eating with a Dirty Mind in Stereo…? Kind of spooky to be in Sydney and see Vanessa pop on Paleo Parents after just commenting on her Boston Cream Pie (Paleo Style) on her blog.

    Cool bananas! Or, should that be cool pumpkins…?

    • Vanessa

      TSL! Fancy seeing you here! I’m a woman of many blog posts. 😉 Hugs!

  • Kittie

    Is there a substitute for the cashews? My son is allergic to them. 🙁

    • Vanessa

      Unfortunately the cashews are what give it the cheesecake flavor. Maybe blanched and soaked almonds? That might work as well.

      • Kittie

        Thank you for your reply, Vanessa! 🙂

        • Vanessa

          No problem! Let me know how it goes!

    • Melibee

      I’ve heard sunflower seed & hemp seeds can be substituted for nut free versions! Not sure it’ll work in this instance but maybe worth a try!

  • Beth

    I’m not sure canned pumpkin is available in the uK, what sort of texture is it? And what size can? I’m assuming if I cook up some pumpkin it will suffice?!

    • Vanessa

      Canned pumpkin is just plain ole pumpkin but it’s almost blended so it’s more fine and creamy, not clumpy and stringy. Does that make sense? Sorry. There is about a cup or so in each can. You could definitely make your own with the insides of a pumpkin and a blender. I would just do a Google search on how to do it! 🙂

  • Jordan

    What size pan do you use?

    • Vanessa

      An 8×8 square glass pan is mentioned above, but a metal one would be fine too since you are just freezing them. You could even do an 8″ spring form pan and you could do cheesecake slices instead of squares. 🙂

  • Sarah W.

    I love that there is not a single egg in this recipe! I may have to make it soon 🙂

    • Sarah W.

      not sure why some rando photo is appearing next to my name but that is NOT my picture

      • That’s pretty funny. You’ll have to take that up with Disqus. It takes it from WordPress gravatars, if I recall correctly, but I’ve never seen that happen!

  • Karen Terry

    I’m wondering if these need to be stored in the freezer? Or will they keep in the fridge?

  • Brianne

    This recipe is truly fantastic. I even reduced the sugar content slightly, and they still turned out great. Three thumbs up (if that’s possible)!

  • Theresa

    I made this with macadamia nuts instead of cashews (lower carb, soaked them just an hour in hot h2o) and it was great! I also doubled the pumpkin by accident and it was still amazing. I used stevia for sweetener (candida diet splurge!) and it turned out to be very low carb and filling. It is a keeper, thanks!

  • Mary

    Thank you! Will definitely try it! Also, if you’re allergic to dairy, have you tried ghee? It’s clarified butter w/the casein removed. Which is what most people react to. Hope that helps!